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Woodward Vetoes Ordinance C36209

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 11:20 a.m.

Mayor Nadine Woodward has notified the City Council that she will veto an ordinance that imposes penalties based on neighbor complaints for watering outside of mandated day, time, and length constraints.

The City Council passed ordinance C36209 last week, which limited watering hours to 6 pm to 10 am, four days per week, and for a total of 2 hours per day between June 1 and October 1. It also prohibits use of water for washing outdoor hardscape features, such as sidewalks, driveways, decks, and patios.

“I greatly appreciate and value efforts to conserve water and am hopeful we can partner on a solution based on education and re-evaluation of our incentives-based approach,” Woodward said. “My strong preference is to model a collaborative approach with our community, which I’m happy to help you lead, rather than encourage the likely divisiveness that will result from neighbors monitoring and reporting on other neighbors, no matter how well-intended the desired outcome.”

The City implemented a tiered rate structure that took affect a little over a year ago and also adopted a Water Conservation Master Plan two years ago, which includes strategies to change behaviors through financial incentives. The effectiveness of those two programs has been influenced by pandemic impacts that have seen more people at home and using water over the past two years and a summer of record heat for extended periods.

The ordinance requires neighbors to monitor and report on prohibited water usage in a complaint-driven system.

“This situation is fundamentally different than other complaint-based system the City operates,” Woodward said. “Monitoring water usage outside of desired levels requires a measure of confrontation that is much different than our other complaint-based systems that can more easily accommodate anonymous reporting and leave it to Code Enforcement to independently obtain proof of overgrown weeds or junk vehicles. This is not the kind of community I want to create.”